x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Stacy Lewis looks good for victory on UAE debut

The American has been in excellent form in the past few months, clinching her second major championship with victory in the Women’s British Open at St Andrews, writes John McAuley.

Stacy Lewis will have to contend with the challenge from Shanshan Feng. Scott Halleran / Getty Images / AFP
Stacy Lewis will have to contend with the challenge from Shanshan Feng. Scott Halleran / Getty Images / AFP

DUBAI // Stacy Lewis will make her UAE debut on Wednesday when the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters brings the curtain down on the 2013 Ladies European Tour (LET) campaign.

With the LET money title already secured by world No 2 Suzann Pettersen of Norway, who is not entered this week, the third-ranked Lewis should be favourite to lift the trophy at Emirates Golf Club.

The American has enjoyed an inspired past few months, clinching her second major championship with victory in the Women’s British Open at St Andrews.

Since that August triumph, she has registered three runner-up finishes on the LPGA, most recently coming home second at last month’s Lorena Ochoa Invitational.

Despite the fine form, though, Lewis will have plenty of challengers around the Majlis this week. Chief among those will be Shanshan Feng, the Chinese world No 4, who returns to the scene of last year’s spectacular performance.

Twelve months ago, Feng was unstoppable, claiming the tournament with a record score of 21-under par.

Aiming to become the second golfer after Annika Sorenstam to land back-to-back titles in Dubai, China’s first major champion comes into the event full of confidence, having last week emerged victorious at the LPGA Titleholders Tournament, the season finale on the American circuit.

While the LET Order of Merit was settled long before Dubai, the coveted rookie-of-the-year award has yet to find a home.

Charley Hull’s remarkable breakthrough season gives the Englishwoman, 17, a slight edge in the battle with compatriot Holly Clyburn, who begins the week €11,337 (Dh56,373) behind Hull in earnings.

Hull is seeking her first professional win, but a recent run of five consecutive runner-up finishes, and a starring role for Europe at the Solheim Cup in August, confirms the youngster’s talent.

jmcauley@thenational.ae